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Dog owner believes her dog may have been exposed to valley fever from construction dust

Posted at 6:21 PM, Dec 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-12-08 15:15:40-05

Cough or a fever? Just two signs your dog may have valley fever.

One in four dogs will get valley fever in their lifetime and there is currently no vaccine.

Diane and Bill Mossbarger's three-year-old dog was just diagnosed with valley fever.

Diane says her dog doesn't go to dog parks or dig in the backyard, but enjoys riding in the car.

"She loves to have her head out the window with the wind blowing in her face and in fact the day we took them for shot that is exactly what she was doing and we were driving by all this construction that is going on down here," she said.

The Ina Road construction project is near their home. Diane says she always sees dust flying up and thinks her dog could have breathed it in.

"As far as valley fever cases I will see three or four new ones every day and we are treating hundreds of them," said Dr. Richard Livingston with Acoma Animal Clinic. 

Dr. Livingston says Tucson has a bad caseload of the disease.

"Valley fever is called a deep fungus," he said. "It lives on the surface of the soil, monsoon rains it sporulates on the soil and then when the winds come along whip those spores into the air and we all inhale it."

He says common symptoms include a cough, fever, weight loss and even seizures. Monthly treatment can cost up to $60 and that doesn't include doctor checkups every three to six months.

Nine on your side asked the Arizona Department of Transportation about the construction dust and
a spokesperson said that crews are constantly watering the Ina site to keep dust down. Also, on windier days more water is applied.  

Dr. Livingston says there is no way to prevent a dog from getting valley fever... if they are outside, they're exposed. 

"What I have learned from this from our wind on these windy days and near all this construction maybe keep them inside as much as you can," she said. 

The University of Arizona is in the process of creating a valley fever vaccine for dogs. Researchers say it is still being tested in the lab and about four years away from field testing.